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WMCA Single Assurance Framework - Feb 2024


HM Treasury define Assurance Frameworks as ‘An objective examination of evidence for the purpose of providing an independent assessment on governance, risk management, and control processes for the organisation.’

The aim of this document is to set out how the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will spend or invest public money responsibly, both openly and transparently, and achieve Value for Money (VFM). It provides a proportionate and consistent approach for the application and approval of all funding opportunities and the initiation, development and delivery of projects, programmes and activity that places a financial liability onto the WMCA that is not classed as Business as Usual (BAU).

The Purpose of the Single Assurance Framework

This document outlines:

the WMCA response to the English Devolution Accountability Framework

the respective roles and responsibilities of the WMCA Mayor, the Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) and other elements of the decision-making

the key processes for ensuring accountability, probity, transparency, legal compliance, and VFM

how potential investments will be assured, appraised, prioritised, approved and delivered, and

how the progress and impacts of these investments will be monitored and evaluated.

The Single Assurance Framework (SAF) sits alongside the following WMCA governance and policy documents:

  • WMCA Constitution
  • Financial Regulations
  • Single Commissioning Framework
  • Investing With Us
  • Strategic Risk Management Framework
  • WMCA Aims and Objectives
  • Annual Business Plan
  • Plan for Growth
  • Inclusive Growth Framework. The Assurance Framework has been written to ensure that projects are developed to deliver inclusive growth in a more balanced West Midlands economy.
  • Health and Equity Impact Assessments

The SAF has been developed in response to the English Devolution Accountability Framework. It applies to all existing and new funding and projects that place a financial liability onto the WMCA. It provides consistency of approach and standards for programme assurance, appraisal and decision-making. It also enables a proportionate approach to be applied for the development of business cases. In updating the SAF annually, and in between annual reviews where there are major changes to the processes or the English Devolution Accountability Framework, the updated SAF will be sent to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) for approval. It will then be uploaded to the Internet and Intranet for use.

The SAF is a set of systems, processes and protocols designed to provide an evidence base and independent assessment of the governance, risk management, and funding processes of a funding or grant applications. It enables WMCA to monitor, measure and scrutinise how well Policy Aims are being met and risks are being managed. It also details processes to be implemented that will help to ensure an adequate response if risks or performance go into exception.

WMCA also operates according to:

  • Local Government Financial Framework, as set out in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Local Government System Statement. Local Government Finance Settlements
  • HM Treasury Guide to developing the project business case Guide
  • HM Treasury Guide to Assuring and Appraising Projects: Green Book
  • Orange Book (Strategic Risk)
  • Magenta Book (Evaluation)

The SAF provides assurance to the Departmental Accounting Officer by explaining how funding granted or devolved to the WMCA is allocated, and that there are robust local systems and controls in place which ensure resources are spent with regularity, propriety and value for money. The S151 Officer (Executive Director – Finance & Business Hub) is responsible for ensuring that best VFM is achieved. WMCA publishes it audited accounts annually on its website (Annual Accounts).

Within WMCA, the SAF is a valuable tool to enable the WMCA to deliver successful projects and explain the clear rationale through the development of business cases, detailing how objectives will be delivered, using HM Treasury Green Book principles.